6 Things You’ll Need for Spring

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We all know the adage, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” So we want to help you plan for Spring Cleaning success with our theme of the week: Spring Thinking! Spring Thinking is all about planning ahead for the things you’re going to need in order to execute your most thorough Spring Cleaning spree yet—when that happy moment arrives. Here are a few items you need to think about acquiring as the seasons change. Read on to find out how each of these quality items from HeltonTool has you covered this spring.

we20vb1 Weed Eater Blower Kit: Who doesn’t love an all-in-one? This blower kit includes everything users need to clear their home and small yard of leaves, dirt, grass clippings, and other debris. The kit includes a blower handle, a lithium-ion battery, and a charger for just $88.90. We also have the individual components for sale, if you only need replacement parts.

2 SuperTrim Trimmer Line: We have many lengths and thicknesses of SuperTrim and Cyclone brands of trimmer line. For use with a wide variety of string trimmer models, these durable, brightly-colored timmer strings will have your tool buzzing around the periphery of your yard just as soon as it warms up. Pick up your trimmer line in a single, two-pack, or four-pack bundle on our website.

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3 Tool Cases and Bags: When nature calls us out of doors, it can be hard to ignore it. For users who do most of their hard work outside the home, we have a vast selection of tool cases and bags to tote hand tools, bare tools, batteries, chargers, and accessories. Check out our full line of tool cases and bags HERE, and you’ll enjoy a springtime of on-the-go cutting, fastening, grinding, and more that wouldn’t be possible without a reliable tool case.

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4 Rapid Care First Aid Kit: With the rise in temperatures and the rise in activities, there is an unfortunate rise in accidents during the spring. Be sure to keep a first aid kit on hand at all times. The Rapid Care First Aid Kit contains all the necessary components to treat a variety of mild to serious injuries, and it’s available for $12.95.eco_safe_3pk5 EcoSafe Compost Bags: It’s never too early to start saving the planet, and that’s the ultimate goal of these EcoSafe compost bags. Whether you’re an avid composter or you’re just dipping your toes in this environmentally-friendly way to manage waste, these bags will help. Line a waste basket with one of these bags, and you can discard organic materials to your heart’s content. When the bag is full, simply deposit the entire thing at your local community compost, where nature will do its thing. We have EcoSafe Large bags in 13-gallon size for most tall kitchen trash cans, and we have them in Extra Large 39-gallon size for organic yard waste and other large jobs.

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6 Best Step Anti-Microbial Interlocking Comfort Flooring: After you’ve scrubbed and scoured every last inch of tile, hardwood, or concrete flooring in your high-traffic, high-moisture areas—like the garage, mud room, weight room, and laundry room—what better way to protect that flooring than with comfortable, water-resistant, anti-fatigue floor mats? These durable mats can transform the flooring in rooms of all sizes thanks to their interlocking design. Each mat is 2” x 2” and they come 8 mats to a pack. Check out all our Best Step bundles to get the most value on this superb flooring solution!

5 Tips for Being a Fantastic Friend

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Whether you have one or two friends that you hold near and dear to your heart, or if you have dozens of close friends who enrich your life, it’s important to take the time to acknowledge, celebrate, and maintain these friendships. What better time for a refresher course on friendship than during International Friendship Week? In this week’s Monday Minute, we’re presenting 5 Tips for Being a Fantastic Friend. Implement these tips in your friendships, and you’ll always have someone in your life to raise a cheer, offer a sturdy shoulder, and lend a listening ear.

1 Show your friends appreciation. There’s no wrong way to tell your friends you’re grateful for everything they bring to your life. Everyone gives (and receives) appreciation in different ways. Decide whether face-to-face, a phone call, a Facebook message, or a personalized greeting card is the best route for your friendship. If you’re worried about appearing awkward or excessive, keep your message short and sweet.

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2 Have fun with your friends. Everyone’s idea of a good time is different, but it’s likely that you and your friends share some common interests. If you and your friend find yourselves doing the same activities over and over, suggest trying something new. Take a class, do service in your community, try a new restaurant, or tackle a DIY project together. (We’re especially fond of the last suggestion, and we’re happy to help you find the right tools for the job.)

3 Help lead your friends to solutions. When your friend is having a problem and looking too closely at the situation, your most valuable role can be an extra pair of eyes to help guide them to a peaceful resolution. Make sure to listen to the problems your friend is having with an open mind, and try thinking outside the box for solutions. It’s easier to see the bigger picture with a level-headed friend around.

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4 Give your friends thoughtful gifts. Chances are good that your friends tell you things they don’t tell acquaintances or family members. Oftentimes these things are complaints and expressions of frustration. Listen closely when your friends are venting, and when the time comes for a birthday or holiday, give a truly thoughtful gift with the unique ability to solve a problem. For example, if a friend recently called crying because she locked her keys in her car for the 5th time this year, consider putting the iKeyless Car Remote on your shopping list.

5 Communicate with your friends. Every now and then, your friendships are likely to hit bumpy patches. That’s okay! Make sure when the rough patches come, you maintain focus on how valuable your friendship is. Handle arguments with patience, taking turns to understand one another’s perspectives. If your friend has wronged you, try putting yourself in their shoes and respond the way you hope they would respond if the roles were reversed. If something in your friendship is bothering you, be fearless in speaking up. A genuine friend will do their best to make sure you’re comfortable with the dynamic.

A Flash Introduction of the Hydraulic Valve Lifter Tool

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Some people do things the hard way because it gives them a greater sense of accomplishment. Others do things the hard way because they don’t know there is an easier way. Whichever camp you fall into, allow us to spend a few words explaining all the joys and benefits of a Hydraulic Valve Lifter Tool (available now from HeltonTool for just $11.95). Any mechanic who has found need of repairing the hydraulic valve lifter in their engine will immediately understand the value of this tool. For everyone else, let us take a brief moment to enlighten.

Within the cylinders of an engine reside several lifters—little thumb-sized pieces of metal through which engine rods move up and down. These lifters serve to maintain zero valve clearance and protect rods from damage on the downward distribution of engine pressure. When one of these lifters needs to be repaired, it can be an extremely challenging (if not impossible) task to reach down between the camshaft and each engine’s valve and access the part. While some mechanics have gotten by using wire hangers or other long, narrow “tools,” there’s no comparison between these rudimentary efforts and the quality craftsmanship afforded by the Performance Tool brand Hydraulic Valve Lifter Tool – part number W80566.

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Once the intake manifold has been removed (where necessary) and the rocker covers, rocker arms, and push rods have been set aside, this tool is snaked into the hollow center of the hydraulic valve lifter. The user simply pushes the knob on the tool’s end to engage the tips of the tool into the grooves within the valve lifter. Once engaged, the user pulls up gently and is able to perform the required service to the part. When service is complete and it’s time to replace the hydraulic valve lifter, this tool performs the exact same way in reverse, making the entire process of removing and replacing a hydraulic valve lifter a walk in the park.

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Get yours here, and start doing one more thing the easy way.

A Flash History of CorningWare

Next time you’re feeling down for getting something not-quite-right the first time, consider the case of S. Donald Stookey, for whom a little accident turned into a wonderfully successful facet of a world-renowned glassware empire.

The year was 1953, and the Corning Glass Works company had been making quality glassware for just over a century. One day in the Corning Research and Development Division lab, S. Donald Stookey intended to heat photosensitive glass in a furnace set at 600°F. However, when he checked on the glass sample, he noted the furnace was 900°F and the glass within it had turned a milky white color. Startled, Stookey reached for the sample with his tongs, intent on throwing it away as an experiment gone wrong. When the sample slipped to the floor and didn’t break, Stookey realized he had created something amazing. The glass-ceramic product was later dubbed Pyroceram, and it is the same material CorningWare uses today to produce the high-quality, versatile dishes we know and love.

Pyroceram’s crowning feature is its ability to withstand thermal shock—the immediate change in temperature that causes some earthenware dishes to break. Pyroceram, and by extension all CorningWare, is capable of being taken from a freezer or fridge and used directly in a pre-heated oven, under a broiler, or in a microwave. Users need not worry about their cooking vessels cracking and ruining the meal, because these durable dishes have the wherewithal to withstand applications greater than or equal to 1000°C. No matter how high you accidentally set your home oven, there’s a very good chance your CorningWare will survive.

When you order CorningWare from HeltonTool, it is covered by World Kitchen’s lifetime guarantee. You also get fast, free shipping in the contiguous United States. Check out all our CorningWare sets here.

The Home Chef’s Gift Guide

It doesn’t matter whether the home chef in your life is your spouse, your parent, your sibling, or your friend; chances are good you know someone who enjoys spending time in the kitchen, making sure everyone is comfortable and well-fed. With the help of our Home Chef’s Gift Guide, you’ll find a variety of quality kitchen wares that will make awesome gifts. Best of all, HeltonTool is an authorized distributor of all these fine home products, so you get the full manufacturer’s warranty in addition to our wonderfully low prices.

Chicago Cutlery Knives & Knife Sets

Chicago Cutlery is renowned for their commitment to quality cutting. Their knives feature exclusive Taper Grind edge technology that ensures a sharper knife and a cleaner cut. If the edge ever does seem to dull, some of our knife sets feature an in-block sharpener to re-hone blades and make them sharp as new again. The knives have an excellent hand-feel, weighing in with just the right balance of a light, manageable design and solid, high-quality construction. With several knives and knife sets to choose from, the home chef you know will have a blade for every task.

(Don’t tell her, but this is what’s under the Christmas tree for our mother.)

Corningware Cookware Sets

No matter what dishes she does best, the home chef in your life will appreciate a set of Corningware Pyroceram Stovetop cookware. Available in either the just white design or featuring the blue cornflower embellishment, these dishes look timelessly beautiful in any kitchen. These dishes are made from a material that was pioneered during the burgeoning space exploration era. Pyroceram is virtually impervious to temperature extremes, so there’s no recipe too hot for this bakeware.

Pyrex Glassware & Lids

From everyday Pyrex mixing bowls to their more festive holiday dishes, we have glassware that is sure to dazzle the home chef you know. We also have lids to fit any dish we sell. Create a festive little gift bundle by getting your home chef a limited edition reindeer bowl and all three of our matching holiday lids! Pyrex is proudly made in the USA from materials that don’t hold on to food odors, flavors, or stains, so your home chef will be able to enjoy this glassware for years to come.

Snapware Storage Solutions

Reliable storage containers with matching lids seem to be something of which no home chef can ever have enough. With our Snapware Total Solutions 38-piece set, they just may get enough! This set not only features a variety of perfectly-sized containers with matching lids, but the lids fit Snapware Total Solutions glass storage containers, too. The containers and lids feature convenient nesting design, so they won’t clutter up valuable kitchen space. Having a cupboard spilling with mismatched containers and lids is almost worse than having no containers at all.

The Tool Enthusiast’s Gift Guide

We all know one. The guy or gal who lives for the sensation of a power tool vibrating in their hands. They obsess over craftsmanship and precision, and—not to put too fine a point on it—they love their tools. Give the gift of a new love this holiday season with one of our vast variety of drills, drivers, and impact power tools. Whether they are brand-loyal or if their workshop contains a smorgasbord of manufacturers, we have something for every collection. From bare tools to kits and from flashlights to bits, you’re sure to find a high-quality product for the tool enthusiast on your list.

Power Tools

 

We carry a variety of power tools from the best names in the industry: Dewalt, Makita, Ryobi, Hitachi, and Porter Cable, to name a few. If you’re looking to add a new reciprocating saw to your tool enthusiast’s collection, check out some of our power tool bundles, which offer a saw as well as a drill/driver for one awesome price. We also have several tool kits, which include a tool as well as its accessories and a convenient way to carry it all. If we know one thing, it’s how to satisfy lovers of great power tools.

Batteries & Chargers

Some of the greatest value we have to offer is found in our battery bundles. Whether your tool enthusiast needs a battery and a spare for occasional jobs or if they want 10 batteries to power through a full weekend of work, we have a deal for you. With industry-leading charge times from some of our lithium-ion slide-style batteries and chargers, your tool enthusiast will have the power they want when they need it. Don’t miss our buy one get one free deal on the Makita BL1830 18V 3.0Ah battery!

Bits

Whether your tool enthusiast needs enough drill bits to open a repair shop or if they just need a handful for their next DIY project, we have a bit set to suit. Our bit kits from Dewalt include a variety of bits in a range of sizes, while our Senco bits offer users more of an a la carte bit-buying experience. Whichever route you go, remember that bits make excellent stocking stuffers!

Worksite Accessories

If the tool enthusiast on your shopping list spends a lot of time on the job, consider gifting them some of our worksite accessories. We have heavy-duty jobsite radios from Bosch, Porter Cable, and Ryobi. We have ultra-bright flashlights from Hitachi, Makita, Porter Cable, and Dewalt. We even have tool bags and tool cases for the tool enthusiast on the go. For the tool lover who is always on their feet, we have soft yet durable antimicrobial floor mats by Best Step. Put a few of these comfortable mats in front of their work bench, and their sore legs and back will be a thing of a past.

Gift Guide for the Outdoorsy Type

There’s no end to the list of activities people find to do outdoors. If someone on your list has a passion for camping, barbecuing, riding ATVs, hiking, exploring, or any other outdoor activities, you’re sure to find something they’ll love on this list.

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ATV Winch

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For the ATV enthusiast, boat owner, or snowmobile rider in your life, we have the Wood Power 12V 6’ Remote Camouflage Heavy Duty 2,000-lb ATV/Boat Winch. No matter how tricky or tight the situations they get in, this winch has the strength to pull them out.

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Metal Detector

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Do you know someone with a coin collecting hobby? How about someone who collects anything metallic and shiny? The Bounty Hunter Discover 2000 metal detector is a user-friendly device that will help any amateur collector unearth metal like a pro. This highly portable metal detector is ready to go anywhere your outdoorsman is going.

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Grilling Kit

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For the outdoorsy type who likes to explore their own back patio, we have this 3-piece BBQ set with bonus steak thermometers and a magnetic grilling light. The high-quality steel construction and Cool Touch handles of these grilling tools are sure to brighten Christmas morning for the backyard grilling aficionado in your life.

5 Curious Holiday Traditions from Around the World

Traditions are the little repeated acts that help unify a family, a community, or a country. Many of us think of things like starting an Advent calendar, dropping anonymous gifts on doorsteps, or leaving cookies out for Santa Claus. While all these traditions are well and good, we’ve compiled a short list of 5 holiday traditions from around the world that may strike many people as odd.

Japan

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Many, many Japanese people dine at KFC on Christmas Eve. So many, in fact, that some people advance order their meals as early as October! To make the holiday dining experience even more festive, some locations offer chocolate cakes and sparkling wine along with the original 8-piece bucket. This crispy-fried tradition was born when a 1974 ad campaign titled “Kentucky for Christmas” suggested KFC’s fried chicken makes the ideal holiday meal. This tradition is made even more fascinating when we consider that the vast majority of Japanese people don’t celebrate Christmas. Talk about the power of good advertising!

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While the 12 Days of Christmas in America are an opportunity for gift giving, pre-holiday sales, and other exciting lead-ins to Christmas, they take on a much more frightful tone in Greece.

According to Greek folklore, the kallikantzaros emerges from its underground lair and is able to walk the earth during the 12 Days of Christmas (Dec. 25 – Jan. 5). This nocturnal, goblin-like creature wreaks havoc wherever it goes, so Greek people have a variety of means to deter it. One method is to leave a colander on the porch at night, because the kallikantzaros won’t be able to count all the holes before the sun comes up and it must hide again.

Latvia

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During Ziemassvētki, or Christmas in Latvia, a variety of pagan, religious, and modern traditions culminate in one unique holiday celebration. The strangest, perhaps, is the tradition of mummers. Mummers are people dressed as animals and other more macabre creatures—like the living dead—who travel from door to door offering blessings, encouraging fertility, and scaring away evil spirits. Residents of the home must give treats to the mummers in order for their blessings to take effect.

Guatemala

The tradition of La Quema del Diablo, or “the Burning of the Devil” is uniquely Guatemalan. Since it is believed evil spirits lurk in the dark, dirty corners of the home, the people of Guatemala spend the first week of December sweeping and deep-cleaning. The debris is piled outside the home and topped with an effigy of the devil. On December 7, everyone lights their piles at the same time, sending the devil and his minions away so the people may enjoy the Feast of the Immaculate Conception the following day.

United States

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What began in Philadelphia as 40 people in Santa suits going out for a brew has turned into a national tradition. The Running of the Santas is touted as a charity event officially held in several large cities. Smaller cities and towns across the country conduct their own versions of the tradition, which is ultimately a creative spin on the bar crawl. Featuring live music, games, and of course, copious amounts of booze, the Running of the Santas sends thousands of people dressed as Santa spilling into the streets in the weeks before Christmas.

No matter what traditions you hold dear around the holidays, the important thing is to keep practicing them. The only way for future generations to enjoy these small, repeated acts is for us to keep repeating them. It’s never too late to start a new tradition, either! If any of these traditions (or any of the other 30 listed here) strike your fancy, your only challenge will be convincing your family or friends to join in.

3 Tips for Keeping Up a Cut Tree

treeThere are few Christmas traditions more exciting than going out and selecting the ideal tree for your home. Christmas cheer can be found in everything from the scent of pine in the air to the contagious excitement of fellow tree-shoppers. While it is sometimes a challenge to get the tree wrapped and strapped to the car, there’s no feeling like watching the boughs unfurl in the hopes of being adorned with lights and baubles. Because it is such an iconic element of the holiday season, it’s important to keep your freshly-cut tree looking as good all month as it did when you spotted it in the tree stand. We’ve compiled the 3 best tips for keeping up with your cut tree this year.

1. Water, water, water. The National Christmas Tree Association advises tree stands that provide 1 quart of water for every inch of the tree’s trunk diameter. If you have a 4” tree, your stand should be able to hold a gallon of water at a time. Most importantly, you should maintain that water level the best you can. This is the single best way to keep your tree hydrated.

Some of the worst things you can do to your freshly-cut tree are to drill a hole in the base of the tree or chip away at the bark before putting the tree in the stand. Both practices are detrimental to your tree and neither will improve its water uptake. Instead, cut a level, 1/2″ disc off the base of the trunk before inserting the tree in the stand. Exposing the fresh wood in this fashion is the only measure that will improve water uptake.

2. Avoid heat. While the temperature of water you use to fill your tree stand does not matter, the temperature of the room does! Warmer rooms will speed the drying process and result in you having to fill the tree stand more frequently. While we’re not recommending you cut the heat altogether, room temperature is something to be mindful of. Make sure your tree isn’t positioned too near major sources of heat, like a fireplace, heater vents, or direct sunlight. When selecting lights for your tree, be sure to choose low heat options, such as miniature lights. These small, low-heat lights will be less drying than larger, hotter options.

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3. Be safe. As inviting as it is to head to bed while the tree keeps glowing in the front window, avoid leaving the lights on when you go to bed or leave the house. Not only will this practice save on electrical costs, it also reduces the risk of drying your tree with lights no one is awake or around to appreciate. Make sure you don’t overload electrical outlets near the tree, and be sure the lights you use are in excellent condition. Also, monitor the tree for freshness throughout the season; if it ever appears dry or if the needles begin dropping, consider replacing the tree or removing it altogether. Inconvenient though it may be to remove and replace all the trappings, having a dry tree in the home is a major fire hazard.

In addition to being beautiful and smelling great, freshly-cut trees are biodegradable and can be used for a variety of other purposes once they’ve left your living room. For these reasons, make sure you recycle (rather than burn) your tree when you’re finished enjoying it.

If you need somewhere safe to keep your ornaments after you’ve removed them from the tree, consider one of our convenient and high-quality ornament keepers.

The Story Behind the Christmas Cookie

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The first day of December brings with it a variety of seasonal favorites. Houses along the street shimmer with newly-hanged lights, radio stations begin their 24-hour seasonal soundtracks, and people all over the country scour the internet for delicious and different Christmas cookie recipes. While we have found a couple unique cookie lists that we’ll share with you in a minute, we thought it would be fun to first share a little history of the Christmas cookie.

There’s some debate about whether the story begins by accident or on purpose, so we’ll present both theories and let you be the judge. Some historians believe cookies were the likely result of early (we’re talking Neolithic Era) humans spilling grain paste on the rocks around a cooking fire. Talk about a happy accident. Others believe cookies originated as small, tester cakes, put into a hot oven to determine if it was the correct temperature to bake a full-sized cake.

No matter the original origin story, there’s no debate that sweet baked goods have been found at winter solstice festivals and celebrations for thousands of years, predating the holiday we know as Christmas. As with many modern holidays, Christmas formed as a convenient melding of pagan and Christian traditions that occurred around the same time of year. People naturally acknowledged the arrival of winter with the killing of animals that would be a burden on the grain supply through the famine of winter. With an abundance of fresh meat and the flowing of mead that had been set to ferment in the spring, the only thing missing from the party was dessert!

gingerbreadThe traditional flavors of Christmas cookies are spicy, nutty, and fruity. These types of ingredients were used in the Middle Ages when cooks prepared celebratory cakes of cinnamon, ginger, pepper, almonds, and dried fruit. It wasn’t until lebkuchen, or gingerbread, made its way from Germany to Queen Elizabeth I that the Christmas cookie began to take shape. At this point in time, Christmas had already eclipsed the solstice as the most popular winter celebration, so it was no surprise when Elizabeth I wished to honor her courtiers with the gift of having her cooks fashion ginger cookies in their likeness. This is how gingerbread men became a Christmas staple.

Soon recipes for cookies were cropping up in cookbooks all over Europe. The Dutch brought the tradition of Christmas cookies with them to America in the early 1600s. While most recipes from the sixteen and seventeen hundreds produce rudimentary, super-crunchy biscuits sprinkled with savory spices, Americans gave them delightfully whimsical names, like plunkets, jumbles, and cry-babies. The recipes for these crunchy confections often warn bakers that the cookies are best enjoyed up to a week after baking, only after the humidity of a cellar has made them more palatable.

It wasn’t until cookie cutters were imported from Germany in the late 1800s that people were able to create cookies in elaborate shapes. The cutters were originally intended to make Christmas ornaments using inedible dough. However, it didn’t take long for people to start pressing them into cookie dough, and the cut-out cookie was formed.
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Just as the origin of cookies has more than one possible story, the tradition of putting out cookies for Santa also has more than one starting point. Norse tradition has had people putting out food for Odin’s eight-legged horse, Sleipner, for thousands of years. Some believe the act of leaving cookies for St. Nick is in homage to the generosity of the actual Saint Nicholas, who spent his life helping people and feeding children in need. Still others state that the tradition gained traction during the Great Depression in the United States, when parents sought to teach children the importance of showing gratitude for their gifts, no matter how simple or small.

Christmas cookie swaps have origins dating as far back as WWI, but historians believe the swaps mentioned in literature from that time were more like bake sales today. The true holiday cookie exchange is often attributed to the Erwin Group, a division of the Syracuse Home Bureau, dating back to Syracuse, New York in 1936. If you plan on mixing up your own batch of dough and participating in one of these iconic Christmas cookie traditions, consider bringing your treats in one of our cookie carriers, so they’ll stay safe and presentable on the way. If you’re making bars, we have the perfect bake-and-take solution.

Whether you get together with friends to trade recipes and share humorous stories of your baking mishaps, or if you low-key leave a plate of Oreos for Santa on Christmas Eve, there’s no denying Christmas cookies have become a tasty staple of the holiday season.

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To see cookies inspired by (almost) every state in America, click here.

To see a holiday Cookie Calendar featuring 25 unique recipes, click here.